The Evolution of the Saint Andrew Church Building

The Advent Church

The Advent Church was constructed in 1859. Nothing is known about its interior and no photographs are known to have survived. A typical arrangement would be the placement of several large chairs along the back of the building facing the congregation which might be seated on plain wooden chairs arranged at will. It is also possible that the church had pews for the congregation.

The deed shows that the Adventist Society transferred ownership of the church building and the land on which it stood to Louis de Goësbriand of Burlington in February of 1876 for the sum of $1,800.

Conversion of the Advent Church into Saint Andrew Church

Since the sale transaction for the Advent Church occurred in late February of 1876 and its dedication as Saint Andrew Church occurred in November 30, 1876, all the modifications had to be completed in less than eight months.

The modification of the Advent Church for Catholic worship required a significant expansion of the church structure itself. The overall footprint of the church was probably expanded by between 25 and 33 percent of its original size. About 2/3rds of the new space was devoted to the sanctuary and the rest to the sacristy. The addition was build on to the back of the church — the end farthest from the street. The sacristy had its own entrance from the outside facing the rectory.

Among the internal improvements made at this time were:

  • the sanctuary area was constructed and raised above floor level
  • the main altar
  • side altars
  • altar rail with a gate
  • sacristy furnishings

The windows in the sanctuary would have been constructed with the addition. It is likely that the windows in the nave of the church were original although it is not clear whether the stained glass was added when the building was renovated for use as a Catholic church of thereafter. Since the donor names on the window are those of early residents of Waterbury including Father Galligan, the first pastor, it is likely that the stained glass was added fairly soon after building conversion if not in the conversion process itself.

We do not know whether there were pews in the Advent Church. If not, they were added at this time. It is also possible that the loft was added at this time.

Another typical furnishing for a Catholic church is the ambo — the place for the proclamation of scripture. There is no indication that an ambo was added in 1876.

The oldest known picture of the interior or Saint Andrew Church

The photograph above is the oldest known picture of the interior of the church. It was taken sometime after 1876 but probably before 1900. From the presence of the Pascal candle, we know the picture was taken during Eastertide. There is one electric light in the middle of the front of the church plus two fairfly primitive lighting fixtures at the entrance from the sacristy and the opposite side of the sanctuary. The latter seem to provide light for those sitting in nearby chairs.

Notable in the picture above is the fact that St. Andrew Church does not have a center aisle as it does today. The original pew layout is almost identical to that of St. Patrick Church in Moretown today. Both churches — St. Andrew in Waterbury and St. Patrick in Moretown — were either renovated or built by Father John Galligan around the same time.

The cross above the left side altar is worth noting. It commemorates a parish mission (probably the first parish mission) conducted by the Redemptorist Fathers in May of 1874. The mission was conducted in Saint Vincent church because what would become St. Andrew Church had not yet been acquired. The mission was probably a week-long event with daily mass and an evening service probably including a sermon and or religious instruction session followed by benediction. As indicated elsewhere, Bishop de Goësbriand was present during this mission. The text at the very top of the cross is “With Him is plentiful redemption” — a passage from Psalm 130 which is now translated as “With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.”

The commemorative cross was probably first displayed in St. Vincent Church and then moved to St. Andrew church after its dedication since it commemorates what was probably a formative event in the history of the parish.

The picture below shows St. Andrew Church as it was before the 1949 renovatons. The picture is thought to have been taken in 1943 shortly after Father John Dwyer arrived.

Father Dwyer in Saint Andrew Church (taken between 1942 and 1949)

Picture 2 shows the front of the first pew on the left aisle indicating that the original pew layout still remains and that the 1949 renovations have not yet been made. However, the presence of the door on the left indicates that some changes had been made during the first half of the 20th century. There are also new statues in this picture as well as what appears to be part of an ambo at the right of the picture.

The 1949 Renovations

While it stands to reason that the 1927 flood inflicted damage on St. Andrew Church, there are no records of repairs or renovations.

In 1949, major renovations were done at St. Andrew Church under the supervision of Fr. John Dwyer. In addition to extensive repairs, pews were replaced and arranged so as to provide a center aisle. The center gate in the altar rail has been replaced with a rope.

Saint Andrew Church after the 1949 renovations

In addition, the following additions and modifications can be seen in the picture above:

  • narrower side altars
  • new side doors and lintels
  • wood floors with carpet runners in the sanctuary
  • a new ambo
  • walls of sanctuary and front of the church painted white or cream
  • new lighting fixtures
  • new sanctuary lamp (much more elaborate than the sancruary lamp in the first picture)

Since the statues are covered, this picture was taken during Passiontide, the two week period before Easter. The church seems much brighter and less cluttered than in the pictures above.

Also visible is a suspended sanctuary lamp in a style quite common during the 20th century and even today. There are fewer statues in the sanctuary than pictured in the first sanctuary picture. Vigil light stands are plainly visible — a custom that has become rare today.

Perhaps the most esthetically interesting addition brought about during the 1949 renovations is the ambo pictured at the left. The picture shows finely detailed wood carving. Unfortunately, the ambo did not last very long — less than fifteen years.





The altar itself, is the original altar undoubtedly repainted and redecorated. The entire sanctuary appears much brighter as a result of the combined effect white or cream paint and an abundance of daylight from the windows above.

Except for the lighting of candles, the altar is ready for mass to begin. Altar cards are in place at the center and both sides of the altar and the Missale Romanum is on the missal stand.

Similar cards for acolytes are visible at the bottom of the picture as is a bell with a hammer on the right side.



Except for the lighting of candles, the altar is ready for mass to begin. Altar cards are in place at the center and both sides of the altar and the Missale Romanum is on the missal stand.

Similar cards for acolytes are visible at the bottom of the picture as is a bell with a hammer on the right side.

Post-Vatican II Renovations

On September 26, 1964, the Vatican Consilium of Sacred Congregation of Rites issued an Instruction on implementing liturgical norms established by the Second Vatican Council. It is usually known by its Latin title Inter oecumenici. Among the norms applying to the sanctuaries of Catholic churches are:

  1. The main altar should preferably be freestanding, to permit walking around it and celebration facing the people.
  2. The chair for the celebrant and ministers should occupy a place that is clearly visible to all the faithful.
  3. There are to be fewer minor altars and, where the design of the building permits, the best place for them is in chapels somewhat set apart from the body of the church.
  4. At the discretion of the Ordinary, the cross and candlesticks required on the altar for the various liturgical rites may also be placed next to it.
  5. The Eucharist is to be reserved in a solid and secure tabernacle, placed in the middle of the main altar or on a minor, but truly worthy altar.
  6. There should be one or more lecterns for the proclamation of the readings, so arranged that the faithful may readily see and hear the minister.

The instruction ordered that its norms be faithfully observed beginning on the first Sunday of Lent, March 7, 1965.

The promulgation of these norms initiated a decade or more of renovations in the sanctuaries of Catholic churches world wide. The most dramatic of the renovations concerned the main altar. Since most existing main altars did not allow the celebrant to face the people, temporary portable altars were installed in most churches allowing time more time to create a more permanent solution.

Saint Andrew parish faced the very same issues. Complying with Vatican norms in a relatively short period of time required the installation of a temporary altar in the sanctuary.

Sanctuary of Saint Andrew Church

While undated, picture 6 was probably taken in 1965. It shows that a temporary altar has been installed while the main altar remains — used only for its tabernacle. The altar rail is still in place as is the sanctuary lamp. The flags seem to be new.

Sanctuary of Saint Andrew Church viewed from the right

Picture 6 presents a slightly different view looking from the right side of the church. It shows a new ambo with poster attached. Also visible is a free standing sanctuary light on left near the American flag.

Sanctuary of Saint Andrew Church viewed up the center aisle

Sanctuary of Saint Andrew Church several years later

In picture 8 the main altar is gone, the temporary altar has been replaced by a permanent one which includes a tabernacle. There are six candles on the altar and the ambo is to the left of the altar. The chairs for the priest and ministers is raised to be visible throughout the church. The walls and the curtain are light blue. The large cross is also new.

Sanctuary of Saint Andrew Church several years later as seen from the right side of the church

Picture 9 shows a free standing sanctuary lamp and a stature of the Infant of Prague. This picture probably represents the completion of renovations undertaken to comply with the norms of the Second Vatican Council. The sanctuary a rather austere in contrast to some of the earlier pictures above.

Later Changes

Other changes were made one at a time over the next few years. In some cases the actual date of the change is not recorded. They include:

  • replacing the blue paint with masonite paneling
  • replacing the blue curtain
  • removal of side altars
  • hanging statues of the Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph on the wall (1992)
  • handicap ramp added on the rear exit
  • pew removal
    • In 1985, a single pew was removed to facilitate the logistics of funerals and accomodate the new Baldwin organ
    • In 2003, a second pew was removed on the left side to make room for an electronic piano.